‘Hooligans’ – owner of calf found dead near torched truck speaks out

A LIFELONG New Forest commoner slammed “hooligans” who stole and torched a local scaffolding firm’s truck and apparently killed one of her calves. Police have launched an investigation after the burnt-out Mercedes Sprinter flatbed was found next to the three-month-old steer’s carcass in the Beaulieu Road area, near Deerleap Inclosure, shortly after 8am last Friday. The vehicle was taken from the Beaulieu base of family-run New Forest Scaffolding Ltd in the early hours of that morning and smashed through Forestry England (FE) gates, causing GBP2,000 of damage.

The scene near Deerleap Inclosure (photo: Phillip Mabbutt) The scene near Deerleap Inclosure (photo: Phillip Mabbutt)

The calf’s owner, Pat Mabbutt (68), was alerted at her family’s farm in Lyndhurst to the incident by her son Richard, who had received a phone call from an agister.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she told the A&T. “It’s a nice place away from the road where you’d think the animals would be safe.

“You don’t expect hooligans to go out there and set light to them. “I don’t know what they were doing with the calf or what they might have been doing with the other cattle. They could have chased it round and round before hitting it.

“I just hope the poor little thing was dead before they set light to everything.”

The steer was among over 100 cattle owned by Mrs Mabbutt, who continues a family tradition of commoning dating back to the 1930s. This was the first time it had been hit by crime, but she also pointed to April’s arson attack on the Beaulieu Road Pony Sale Yard for its impact on livestock trade.

The New Forest Scaffolding truck (photo: Sarah Daw) The New Forest Scaffolding truck (photo: Sarah Daw)

As reported in the A&T, flames engulfing a car spread to a wooden structure at the site near Lyndhurst in the early hours. “Destroying things like this is so wrong,” Mrs Mabbutt continued. “They obviously haven’t got anything better to do than take a truck, drive it around and set light to it, and kill a calf.

“They need catching because what would they do next time? It might be people out there that they could end up hitting.” Tim Daw, who runs New Forest Scaffolding Ltd with his wife Sarah, was alerted to the truck theft by farmers based at their yard who, as retained firefighters, had responded to another blaze outside TV naturalist Chris Packham’s nearby home.

“They have just taken the truck to joyride it, hit a calf and then burnt it,” he said. “I really don’t know what goes through people’s minds when they do something like this.” An FE spokesperson confirmed the damage to a gate near Sandhole Bridge and a metal barrier at Deerleap car park.

But they added: “We are more concerned about the habitat that was destroyed by the burnt-out vehicle and the total disregard that some individuals have for the Forest animals.”

Anyone with information should contact Hampshire police on 101, quoting crime reference number 44210403883, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.